Baseball is back. Well, it’s almost back.
This is the last Thursday before the Major League Baseball season starts and as always, I am excited. There will always be baseball storylines in New York, and recently the Yankees have gotten the wrath of the tabloids for not producing or showing promise.The Mets have been the polar opposite, producing promising young talent, playoff appearances, and consistency. But for the first time in what feels like a long time, both the Mets and Yankees are looking to their seasons to win now - riding on a core of youthful, homegrown talent.
Over the past three major league seasons we have seen the Mets build a nucleus around an entirely homegrown pitching staff. Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz all spent four plus seasons in the Mets farm system and have been major cogs in the Mets pitching rotation with a bright future ahead of them. After failing to fulfill the hype, Matt Harvey has taken a backseat to these three guys - especially Syndergaard, who has become the leader of this pitching staff.
The now 253-pound Syndergaard has the potential to put up some gaudy numbers with a fastball consistently hitting triple digits and a slider that pulls the chair out from under batters. If Thor lives up to what some say he is capable of this season we may have the first Cy Young Award winner from New York since R.A. Dickey in 2012. If Syndergaard is able to get up over 200 innings this season it will be the first time he does so, and that would give him more chances to strike out batters. Who knows how high the total might get if he stays healthy.
There are also some MLB and franchise milestones in reach for two longtime Mets. Jose Reyes is just 12 steals away from reaching 500. If Reyes gets there, he will join Ichiro as the only other active player with 500 or more steals and 906 stolen bases - behind Rickey Henderson for the all-time lead. David Wright also has a chance to break Darryl Strawberry’s club record of 252 home runs. Wright needs 11 big flies to surpass Straw and become arguably the best Mets position player of all-time.
On the other side of town, the Pinstripes have put all of their chips on a guy they have been grooming for seven years in Gary Sanchez. In all honesty, in the small sample size of games that Sanchez played in last year, the guy was a more than pleasant surprise for Yankees fans looking for someone to take the spotlight off of A-Rod and to show some hope in filling at least one of the shoes Derek Jeter left three season ago.
Last season, Sanchez showed a veteran presence not only in the batter’s box but also behind the plate handling the Yankees pitching staff and keeping runners at bay. Sanchez has a nonchalant way about him, which is presumably good for the pitchers he is catching, and he did throw out 13 of 32 (or 41 percent) of baserunners trying to steal on him last season. The future looks bright for this Sanchez kid.
Lets. Go. Mets.